a message of hope
Creating from their basement, self funded emotionally intensive and lucrative pieces, business wasn’t too bad. Shane Gabier and Chris Peters – Peters having been a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Gabier having been a teacher at the school – created the label Creatures Of The Wind and almost naturally won over editors and buyers; including influential retailers like Barneys New York, 10 Corso Como, Dover Street Market and Net-a-Porter. They subsequently gained support of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, receiving $100,000 from the organization. But as demand for the designers’ label began to grow, they faced serious cash flow problems, finding it increasingly difficult to keep up. Business suffers between people in a relationship. But at the same time, these two seem to have faith in their product.
A few weeks ago, Shane Gabier and Chris Peters secured an investment of between $300,000 and $1 million in brands. The opurtunists being ‘The Dock Group’, a Los Angeles-based firm headed by Matthew Walker, former president and chief operating officer of The Row – a successful fashion label designed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
It was ultimately through friends that the duo met Matthew Walker, who along with capital brought to the table deep operational knowledge and a decent resume – as well as an appreciation for quality and creativity. “We already knew Matt’s history and what he had done at The Row — built the brand while producing really beautiful things in a beautiful way. So we knew right away that he would help us grow without having to compromise what we cared about.” Whilst allowing the designers to keep their creative control, he influenced the use of merchandising plans and spreadsheets.
A previous potential investor had tried to steer Gabier and Peters towards producing in China, but instead the appointed production points for 35% of the line were decided upon to be in New York and Japan . “It was very nice in our first meeting with Matt that it was made clear, understood and agreed upon that the level of manufacturing [we required] was very important. He also understood how important the editorial side of the collection is.” The designers will also expand upon existing partnership with Tabitha Simmons to launch a more commercial footwear collection. And thanks to a connection brought to the table by their new investor, Creatures of the Wind has a knitwear line in the works too to be produced at a quality-conscious facility in Hong Kong with which Walker has experience.
To monitor manufacturing more efficiently, post-funding priorities exist in securing a design studio in SoHo, New York, as well as to organize a full team, as supplied by The Docks. Creatures of The Wind currently make less than $1 million in annual sales via a small network of about 20 stockists around the world. Further aims have also been introduced to expand their distribution network with a continued focus on North America and Asia in hopes to increase this annual revenue. “We’re at a point where we have enough history to be able to compile data and detect patterns. So we can see how sales function in specific markets and analyse what’s stronger in a certain market. That way we are responding directly to what is resonating the most with buyers and customers,” said Gabier.
I find it’s less about the money and charitable funding that up and coming designers seek to attain, but rather more the courage and self determination to even start, to get time behind them and let experience build. Regardless of their humble beginnings, they persisted. “We have to be very aware of who our retailers are and what they expect from us, which is for the collection to be very directional. We have to maintain the emotional intensity we have become known for,” said Peters. “But if you want growth, you also have to bring out the voices in the story that you’re telling that can speak to other retailers, to people that might be scared of a floral print pink polyester floor-length coat.”
“We always want to have that coat in our collection. But it’s about finding that balance.”
Written by Yoshi Monday and Edited by Jonathan Lubala